This month’s Silver Travel Cook Club features a recipe for Bulgar Pilaf with Chickpeas, Aubergines and Tomatoes inspired by sponsor Noble Caledonia’s “September in the Mediterranean” cruise aboard MS Hebridean Sky.
And you could win a copy of Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden.
Claudia Roden is credited with revolutionising Western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. Over thirty years on from her first Mediterranean cookbook, Claudia shares the sun-soaked simplicity of the Mediterranean with new recipes for effortless, everyday cooking. This is how Claudia cooks for friends and family – always putting flavour first, beautiful ingredients, fuss-free cooking, relaxed eating. From Provence to the Levant, Andalusia to Morocco, explore the many and varied flavours of the Mediterranean as Claudia shares a life’s worth of travelling and stories along with the food she cooks now.
Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden was The Times / Sunday Times “Food Book of the Year” 2021 and shortlisted for Fortnum and Mason Cookery “Book of the Year”.
September in the Mediterranean Cruise
There is no shortage of cruise vessels plying the major ports and cities of the Mediterranean, but few are inclined to focus on the islands as Noble Caledonia has done with this delightful journey from Mallorca to Naples aboard MS Hebridean Sky.
The voyage is designed as if it were to be undertaken on a small private yacht, staying away from the larger commercial centres and focusing on some of the most picturesque and interesting places in the region. Late summer is the perfect time for the voyage when the crowds of August have dispersed but the weather is ideal for touring and sightseeing. Noble Caledonia have created an itinerary to combine time in the islands of the Balearics, Sardinia, Corsica, Elba and Ponza, the largest of the Pontine Islands and one of Italy’s best kept secrets, all of which are easy to visit individually but difficult to combine independently. In addition to exploring fascinating ports of call, passengers will have the pleasure of cruising aboard MS Hebridean Sky, with just over 100 passengers, you are able to visit atmospheric ports and villages which the big ships cannot access, travelling a less well trodden path across the Mediterranean.
And for a taste of the Mediterranean, why not try this recipe at home?
Recipe: Bulgar Pilaf with Chickpeas, Aubergines and Tomatoes
This rich Levantine combination is immensely satisfying, with layers of flavour and aroma. The optional halloumi cheese makes it a meal in itself. As with anything cooked with oil, leftovers can be eaten cold – but not, in this case, if there is halloumi, as it becomes rubbery when cold.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 aubergines (trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes)
- 300 grams cherry or Santini tomatoes
- 2 onions (chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 350 grams bulgur wheat
- 400 grams tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 1½ – 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- a good pinch of chilli pepper
- 500 millilitres boiling water
- 2 x 250g packets halloumi cheese (optional – omit for vegans)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid and put in the aubergines. Cook over medium heat, turning the cubes over with a spatula so that all have a few minutes to get browned, add salt and pepper and put the lid back on so that they steam in their own juice for about 15 minutes. Put in the cherry tomatoes, turn them over with the aubergines, then continue to cook, covered, for about 8 minutes, until they are soft and begin to release some juice.
- In a large pan, fry the onions in the remaining oil over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring often, until soft and beginning to colour. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the aroma rises and it begins to colour. Take off the heat and stir in the bulgur and chickpeas.
- Put the tomato purée into a measuring jug and add the cinnamon, allspice, cumin, chilli pepper and some salt. Pour in the boiling water and stir vigorously, then pour this into the pan with the bulgur and mix well. Bring to the boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Taste for salt: you will probably need more.
- If adding halloumi, cut the cheese into 3cm cubes and cook quickly over medium–high heat in a non-stick frying pan with a tiny amount of oil, turning the pieces to brown them all over. Mix into the bulgur.
- Turn the bulgur into a large baking dish and mix in the aubergines and tomatoes. Serve with the extra virgin olive oil drizzled over.
How to win a copy of Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden
Noble Caledonia’s September in the Mediterranean Cruise focuses on the islands.
Comment below to tell us about a Mediterranean island that you have enjoyed and what made it special.
A winner will be chosen in early September 2022.
The competition closes on 31 August 2022.
Read more about all of our Silver Travel Cook Club recipes.